Tire Makers Propose Tire Fuel Efficiency Rating System

Five Category System Would Maximize Tire Choices for ConsumersRMA Comments submitted to NHTSA

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.August 24, 2009 - Tire manufacturers are proposing a tire fuel efficiency rating system that is more likely to assist motorists to choose fuel efficient replacement tires than a system proposed by federal regulators.

In written comments to a proposed tire fuel efficiency consumer information regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Rubber Manufacturers Association said its members believe that to establish effective consumer information requirements regarding tire efficiency, the program must meet the following:

• Provide information at point of sale;
• Provide meaningful information that is easy to understand by consumers;
• Provide a wide range of tire efficiency choices across the rating scale to each consumer about replacement tire choices appropriate for the consumer’s existing vehicle;
• Be cost effective to minimize the cost effect of this information to consumers.

RMA supports a five category rating system that maximizes the tire efficiency choices across the rating scale for available to each consumer.

“Since consumers shopping for replacement tires are limited in their tire selections by requirements of their existing vehicle, it is important to design a rating system that maximizes the tire efficiency choices across the rating scale for each consumer. The appeal of a rating system will depend on whether a consumer has “good” choices appropriate for his vehicle across the rating scale,” RMA wrote.

In June, NHTSA proposed a tire fuel efficiency rating system that would be printed on a paper label on every replacement passenger tire sold in the U.S. The rating system would rank tire fuel efficiency on a 0-100 point scale. The proposed rule also would rate wet traction capability and tread wear. The regulation was required by energy legislation enacted by Congress in 2007. RMA advocated in favor of the provision to create a tire fuel efficiency consumer information program.

RMA said that NHTSA’s proposed rating approach would not provide consumers with useful information about fuel efficiency of replacement tires suitable for their vehicles. Under the NHTSA proposal, a typical consumer shopping for a replacement tire for a specific vehicle would have a choice only along approximately a 20 to 30 point spread on the 100 point scale.

“The proposed rating scale gives consumers an illusory view of the tire efficiency choices available to them for their vehicle and does not assist consumers in purchasing fuel efficient tires for their vehicle,” RMA wrote. “On the other hand, this rating approach encourages consumers to purchase smaller tires and could promote the purchase of tires with inadequate load-carrying capacity to safely carry the load of the vehicle. Although many tire dealers would discourage and in many cases would not sell a tire with a rated load capacity insufficient for the vehicle, NHTSA should not promote a system that could lead to this type of safety concern.”

RMA said that NHTSA should develop a system that promotes tire efficiency, regardless of vehicle class.

“Unfortunately, since the proposed system would not favorably rate any tires suitable for larger vehicles, it would send the message to owners of these vehicles that they have no fuel efficient tire choices, so they should not base tire purchasing decisions on this information,” RMA wrote.

RMA also expressed opposition to the propose tire rating system label as a means of providing point of sale information to consumers.

“RMA proposes that NHTSA mandate that tire retailers have the rating information available to consumers in the dealer showroom or waiting area. RMA recommends that NHTSA give tire retailers options for making this information available and require that each retailer choose one or more options that suits their business model and needs. Options could include: tire manufacturer brochures, tire manufacturer product catalogues, in-store online access to the NHTSA website, tire manufacturer websites or the tire retailer’s website containing the rating information,” RMA stated.

RMA estimates that initial costs for manufacturer testing and reporting would range from $14,657,250 to $53,157,440, while annual costs range from $12,280,322 to $34,745,722. Initial costs for the proposed tire labeling requirements would range from $21,921,745 to $30,641,745, while the annual cost estimates range from $11,543,764 to $16,782,340. RMA said in its comments that NHTSA underestimated industry costs.

“The tire industry has long supported the concept of providing information to consumers about its products at point of sale and welcomes the opportunity to begin providing consumer information about a tire’s contribution to vehicle fuel economy,” RMA said.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.

2009 Tire Shipments Revised to Drop Sixteen Percent

Sharper Decline In Original Equipment Tires Cited

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.August 10, 2009 - Tire shipments are projected to drop by approximately 16 percent in 2009 mainly as a result of a nearly 45 percent decline in Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) passenger tires and almost 43 percent drop in OEM Commercial truck tires, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Total 2009 tire shipments are projected to decline approximately 45 million units to 237 million units. This level is approximately 84 million units less than the peak of 321 million units in 2000. The decrease in tire shipments reflects the recent struggles of automotive manufacturers, low consumer confidence, high unemployment, and depressed home values.

Vehicle miles travelled seem to have stabilized and domestic economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors appear to have bottomed and are poised for a rebound in 2010. The tire industry is expected to realize a nearly 8 percent growth in 2010 reaching the 260 million unit level.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2009 include:

  • Original Equipment Passenger Tires: Large decreases in domestic vehicle production as a result of auto manufacturer production shutdowns and bankruptcy reorganizations will result in a nearly 46 percent decrease in 2009 shipments to approximately 21 million units. With the economy predicted to emerge from the recession in 2010, a rebound in vehicle sales and subsequent vehicle production is anticipated, which will result in a nearly 11 million increase in OE tire shipments in 2010. Note that this projection does not account for any changes to the auto industry as a result of further federal intervention or consumer incentive programs.
  • Original Equipment Light Truck (LT) Tires: This category will experience an approximate 12 percent decrease, or 400,000 units, in 2009 to nearly 2.6 million units due to slower economic conditions and its impact on the commercial sectors which utilize light truck vehicles. There is continued consumer demand for vehicle fitments with P-Metric passenger tires in place of LT tires and as the economy gradually recovers in 2010, a nearly 100,000 unit gain is anticipated.
  • Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: Given the downward revisions in the economic conditions in the commercial sector, a nearly 44 percent decline to approximately 2.2 million units is anticipated for 2009– a decrease of over 1.6 million units. The economic rebound anticipated for 2010 along with pent up demand for vehicles is projected to result in a net gain of approximately 500,000 units increase in shipments.
  • Replacement Passenger Tire: As a result of the protracted economic downturn and the onset of economic recovery pushed closer to 2010, the market will realize another decrease of nearly 9 percent, or approximately 18 million units, reaching a level of 176 million units. Growth is anticipated to resume in 2010 with the replacement sector estimated to increase by approximately 5 million units, or slightly better than 3 percent, in tandem with the projected economic growth in the consumer sector.
  • Replacement Light Truck Tire: Although the number of vehicles for this market remains steady and largely represented by small commercial vehicles, further declines in economic conditions is forecasted to contribute to a nearly 18 percent decline in replacement LT tire shipments in 2009 to the 24 million unit level. An increase of nearly 8 percent is anticipated in 2010 in keeping with commercial economic forecasts.
  • Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: The market will realize another decrease of over 3 million units in 2009 to approximately 12 million units as a result of the protracted recovery. Given the uneven economic rebound forecast for 2010, this market is expected to increase by less than 1 million units to nearly 13 million units.

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    The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.

Elastomer Products Group Publishes 8th Edition RMA Hose Handbook

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.August 3, 2009 - The 2009 revision of The RMA Hose Handbook is now available for purchase on the RMA website (www.rma.org). This new edition is provided as a full color electronic file, and includes important updates to reflect current practice for manufacturing methods, design tolerances, couplings, test methods, and general hose application.

The RMA handbook, first published in 1962, is an internationally recognized reference guideline on the selection and use of industrial hose, as prescribed by the member hose manufacturers of the Rubber Manufacturers Association. RMA hose publications are written and maintained by member engineering representatives from Eaton Corporation (Maumee, OH), Gates Corporation (Denver, CO), HBD/Thermoid, Inc. (Dublin, OH), Parker Hannifin Corporation (Cleveland, OH), and Veyance Technologies Inc. (Fairlawn, OH).

Also available at www.rma.org is the complete catalog of RMA technical publications, including other hose specifications and technical bulletins.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.